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On our paddling trip, S&G brought along a magnificent cast iron camping pot.  We used it for everything from eggs and bacon to soups, cakes to stews.  Given we were carrying the majority of our food, our diet was heavy on the dried lentils, rice and beans.  We had planned a feast to celebrate Canada Day – aloo gobi with lemon cake.   While the day began promising with multiple sightings of loons and beavers, our dinner plans, however, were foiled by high winds and a thunderstorm prematurely pushing us off the lake.

Making our feast of Aloo Gobi and roasted Northern Pike.   It was a happy reunion for Sitelle and I - our first time cooking together in over a year!!

Making our feast of Aloo Gobi and roasted Northern Pike. It was a happy reunion for Sitelle and I – our first time cooking together in over a year!!

We ended up making the aloo gobi a few nights later.  We procured the cauliflower and potatoes from the bottom of our canoe barrel to make the curry. The curry is a perfect camp meal – relatively quick to make, filling, and tasty.   We feasted on the Aloo Gobi along with our roasted pike!

While we made this curry over a campfire, it is something both Sitelle and I have frequently made at home over a stove!

Aloo Gobi

Makes enough aloo gobi to serve 10
Aloo Gobi

Ingredients

Canola oil

2 onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, diced

Spoonful of cumin seeds

Spoonful of tumeric

Spoonful of vegetable bouillon

Cardamom pod

5-6 potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 cauliflower head, cut into florets

1 green pepper, cut into ½ inch squares

1 yellow pepper, cut into ½ inch squares

1 cup frozen green peas

1 cup coconut milk

½ cup dried coconut flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Over medium heat, saute onions and garlic in oil until lightly brown.  Add spices and cook until fragrant.  Stir in potatoes, cauliflower, peas and peppers.  Fill pot with water until all the veggies are barely covered.  Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.  Stir occasionally while simmering.  Before serving, stir in the coconut milk and coconut flakes. Adjust seasoning to taste!

Delicious served on its own, with some naan bread,  or over a bowl of rice.

Bon appétit!
Catherine

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As you can probably guess, my last two weeks have been quite an adventure. Sandwiched between two vastly different rock-climbing weekends, I spent two weeks working on some intense mind-numbing data collection in the field in the Eastern Townships of Québec. With that behind me, however, I’m thrilled to be home and to enjoy the simple things like cooking dinner together at home.

In Québec, I could well have been paid for my work in mulberries, fresh Montreal Tasty heirloom tomatoes, and zucchinis from a delicious garden in the place I stayed at. Monkeying around in the mulberry tree at 7am probably made me look like quite a character to the neighbours – but I was willing to take on the role if it meant a salad-bowl full of mulberries for breakfast every day!

When I came home, we basically changed gears into preparing for an up-coming adventure (more details to come – but I will admit it will require us to move, and very far at that). That has meant planning to cook so many meals we’ve had on our list of recipes to try all summer. Tonight was no exception: we cooked Lamb Keema from the LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine (summer 2012).

We had high hopes for this recipe. Full of home-mixed spices and protein, it’s a perfect end-of-summer meal for those days that are heavy in exercise (it was also delicious without exercise too). Not only was it delicious, it was easy to make as long as all the ingredients are readily available in your kitchen (as long as you’re into Indian cooking, your pantry can probably handle it). Topped off with a sunny-side-up egg, this meal is also an eye-pleaser. Finally, I also want to mention that it is low in carbs, if you’re looking for that.

Ingredients – 4 servings (don’t be discouraged by the long list – most are spices!)

1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
salt

1 lb ground lamb (500g)
1/2 cup yogurt

2 Tbsp cooking oil + 1 Tbsp clarified butter
2 whole green cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
1 large bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon

1 medium cooking onion (or the other half of the large red onion), diced
1 Tbsp grated ginger (fresh)
4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup tomato purée
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander

2 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 cup frozen peas
2 tsp garam masala

4 eggs
1 Tbsp butter
cracked black pepper, cayenne to taste

Fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions

Slice the half onion into half-rings. Sprinkle with salt, and let stand.

Heat the oil in a pot with a lid. Once hot, add the whole spices and fry until fragrant, around 3 minutes. Add the diced onion, and fry until translucent but not browned.

Meanwhile, mix the ground lamb and yogurt in a bowl. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger. When onions are ready, add the lamb to the onion mixture and stir to break it all apart. Cook until it is no longer pink, then add in the garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute or two.

Add the tomato purée and 1 1/4 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil. Sprinkle all of the spices on top except the garam masala. Add the potatoes, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, covered. Remove the cover near the end and leave open if amount of liquid remaining is too much.

Heat the butter in another frying pan. Cook each egg separately sunny-side up, seasoning according to taste.

Finally, add in the peas and garam masala. Remove from heat. Rince the onions under the tap. Divide the keema into four portions and serve with a sunny-side-up egg on top, accompanied with some of those salted onions, and fresh coriander if you have some.

This meal is delicious alone, accompanied with naan, or salad!

The only thing I want to do is thank the LCBO for publishing such a delicious recipe in its Food and Drink magazine!

-Sitelle

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It’s hard to imagine that 2012 has arrived!  2011 has flashed by quicker than either of us expected, and both of us have loved writing entries for gourm(eh?).  Neither of us could guess how rewarding this blog would prove to be.  We are so grateful for our reader’s supports and comments, and hope you will continue to enjoy our posts in the year ahead! In the meantime, we wanted to share with you our 10 most popular recipes from 2011.

To a wonderful 2012!

10. Coconut Turnovers – A  recipe Sitelle invented while reminiscing about her travels in Belize — these turnovers are mouth wartering.

9. Okra, Potato and Cauliflower Curry – Who doesn’t love Indian food?  Madhur Jaffrey spotlights okra is this spicy dish.

8. Pesto Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Asparagus, and Zucchini  – Pesto is a favourite of Catherine’s, and this pasta dish (or a variant) features at least once a month in her kitchen.

7. Mocha Chip Meringue Cake – Our very first gourm(eh?) post!  This is a little taste of meringue heaven.

6. Crispy Baked Mac and Cheese – The more cheese, the better in our opinion.

5. Chocolate Zucchini Cake – One of Catherine’s top secret family recipes, she has yet to meet a picky eater who didn’t love this chocolatey, moist cake.

4. Flaky Pastry Crust: Savoury or Sweet! – A cornerstone of both our baking inventories, delicious buttery pie crust is our foundation for most pies.  And if you need a filling, may we recommend Catherine’s two favourites from 2011:

3. Cream of Broccoli and Spinach Soup – Concocted during Catherine’s month of vegetarianism, she’d eat this any day of the week!

2. The ultimate Canadian butter tarts! – We wrote developed gourm(eh?) partially to explore Canadian cuisine.  This here is Sitelle’s take of this delicious Canadian treat.

1. Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch – The post that saw us freshly pressed (!!!!), this rich pasta casserole is keeper.

You'll devour the pine nut crunch topping!

– Catherine & Sitelle

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This year, like every year, I crave warm, rich food at the beginning of October. Since I live with a few new people here in Montréal, it’s fun to see their reaction to my daily cooking adventures. If one person’s reaction is a good indicator, then I was in luck with this recipe. Her eyes bulged after tasting this – “what did you put in this? it’s so good!”. What made me laugh is that she sounded so surprised – she’s the sort of person that always knows best. And with all the cooking I do, I’m bound to get some flavours right just from trial-and-error!

So, I will leave it at that, and hope you enjoy it as much, or more (if that’s possible), than we did here!

Ingredients – serves 4

Lentil Curry

-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
-1 tsp mustard seeds
-1 tsp (or less to taste) hot red pepper flakes
-2 Tbsp olive or canola oil
-1 cup red lentils
-1.5 tsp ground cumin
-1.5 tsp garam masala
-1 tsp paprika
-2 tsp curry powder
-3 cardamom pods, whole
-1 cup coconut milk
-1/4 cup tomato paste
-1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
-1 tsp honey
-2-2 1/2 cups water (depending on how thick you like your curry)
-1 1/2 cup roasted squash, mashed or diced
– 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Cardamom-infused rice

-1 cup basmati rice
-2 cardamom pods, whole
-1 1/3 cups water

Directions

Lentil curry

In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, and let them heat up and infuse the oil. If using olive oil, don’t let them heat too much; but if you’re using canola oil you can wait for the seeds to begin to pop. Add the diced onion, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until they are translucent. Add garlic, stir, and cook for another minute or so.

Then add the spices, and the lentils. Stir to coat the lentils with the spice-onion mixture. Pour in water and coconut milk, and raise the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer. Add the tomato paste and honey, and mix until it is well dissolved.

Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until lentils are tender. Add the squash 10-15 minutes before the end.

This curry tastes even better on day 2 – and that’s saying a lot since normally I’m not a big left-over fan.

Cardamom-infused rice

Rince rice. In a small pot with a tight-fitting lid, place rice, water, and cardamom pods. Cover and bring to a boil, quickly reducing the heat to minimum as soon as it boils. Then let cook for 10 minutes, remove from heat and fluff, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Remove cardamom pods before serving.

Garnish curry with some cilantro, and serve over rice. I hope you like it!

-Sitelle

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Tonight as I walked home enjoying the first hints of warmth in the sun rays, I thought about what to make for dinner.  I love how as the days get longer, with the blue sky, and the temperature starting to rise above zero, people’s spirits start to rise.   Tonight I had lentils on the menu, and remembered a great recipe that is both delicious and beautiful to look at.  Lentils are one of those amazing foods that are extremely nutrient-dense, and can be prepared in innumerable ways.  With cumin and curry leaves, they take on an Indian personality in this recipe.

Originally I think this recipe came from The Bean Book, although it’s one of those recipes that has been written by hand by a well-meaning friend, and therefore I am not certain as to its origins.  I have taken the basics of the recipe and created a variation that includes kale and coconut milk.  The kale adds colour, a wealth of nutrients, and a nice taste.  The coconut milk adds a creaminess to the dahl.  This is one of those meals I don’t need much more than rice with – no need for extra veggies, or even dessert.  It stands alone, with rice, naan, or roti.

Ingredients – 8 servings

Dahl

-1 onion, diced
-2 Tbsp oil (I like to use canola here) or butter (for an especially creamy dahl)
-4 cloves garlic, germ removed, mashed
-1 cup red lentils, washed
-3 3/4 cups vegetable bouillion
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1 tsp ground coriander seed
-1/2 tsp chili flakes
-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
-1 tsp ground ginger (or 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger)
-2 ripe fresh tomatoes,  diced (in the winter I use 1 8oz can, or 1/2 a 16oz can)
-1 12oz can coconut milk (regular or light)
-1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, and coarsely chopped

Whole spice mix

-1 Tbsp peanut oil
-1 leek, dark green removed, washed and sliced
-2 garlic cloves, germ removed, sliced finely
-1 Tbsp butter or peanut oil
-1 tsp mustard seeds
-1 tsp cumin seeds
-1/2 tsp (or more, to taste) chili flakes
-salt and pepper to taste
-8 or so curry leaves (or 2 bay leaves if you do not have curry leaves)

Directions

In a large pot, heat oil over medium, and then sauté the onions until they are translucent.  Add the mashed garlic, chili flakes, and ginger.  Sauté for another 2-3 minutes, then add the washed lentils.  Stir the lentils to coat them with the onion mix, then add the bouillion.  Bring to a boil uncovered, then reduce heat and simmer for 50 minutes, covered.  Add the rest of the spices, the tomato, and the coconut milk.  Simmer 10 more minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan to make the whole spice mix.  Add the leeks over medium-low heat, and caramelize, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes.  Add the garlic, and sauté for 2-3 minutes until it is golden.  Then remove the leek/garlic mix from the pan into a small dish.  Melt the rest of the butter/oil, and when it is hot put the mustard and cumin seeds in, as well as the chili flakes and salt and pepper.  When they start popping (after a couple of minutes), turn the burner off and put the leek/garlic mix back into the pan.  Add the curry leaves (or bay leaves), and stir.

Stir the kale into the lentils, and add the whole spice mix.  Remove the curry leaves (or bay) just before serving.  This is delicious right away or can be kept a few days.  I hope you like it!

-Sitelle

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